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Future Tech: 

Meet Ringo, the crowdfunded robo-pet

Robo Pet

How much is that robot in the window? The one with the waggly diodes?

Virtual pets have come a long way from the Tamagotchi craze of the early 90s. Manufacturers quickly realized that a screen-based pet isn’t the same as something that can be physically stroked, cuddled and played with, exactly the way a cat won’t ever allow.  Robotic pets have been tried before – Furby, for example – but limitations of robotics and price meant it was pretty limited in its interactions.

A new Kickstarter project hopes to change all that. Ringo is a tiny robotic pet, slightly bigger than a handful of change, and it will play with its new owner using sensors over its beetle-like metal form. You can even alter its behavior with different code, should your pet’s personality not match your expectations.

In fact, that’s half the point. Plum Geek, the creators of the robotic pet, enlisted their first and third grade children’s help to program its 10 built-in behavior patterns. But because Ringo is open-source, anyone can make a new personality for other users to download onto theirs. This is something that the developers of cats should consider, when they get around to fixing the many flaws of cat 1.0.

Within its tiny frame, the hardware includes an Arduino UNO processor, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, wireless communication to talk to other Ringos and on-board automatic battery charging.

We love the idea of a virtual pet that gets kids to love technology from a young age, and if you do too, you can back the Kickstarter and bag a Ringo for as little as $89.

25 lucky backers managed to purchase a kit version for self-assembly, but sadly they’ve all gone now. In any case, doesn’t the magic of first time pet ownership feel a bit cheapened if you have to put its eyes in yourself?

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